June 12, 2007

Mary Poppins

There are times when an expression, an idiom or a phrase leaves its cerebral abode and comes to be associated with an image. This, I think, is the hallmark of its popularity. Words acquire a form, a visual representation, a picture (which by popular belief is worth a thousand words, which, in turn, would mean a few words equal a thousand. I could go on and seek to present a mathematical fallacy, proving thereby that a "few" equals a thousand, but the objective here is to present the origin and meaning of an expression, not to get my ass kicked) and enter our consciousness as a symbol of a phenomenon, a country or some such thing.

Think Yankee Doodle and you form an image of Uncle Sam on a pony or, if you have a less irreverent imagination, of the Statue of Liberty or something distinctly American. The point being, it has come to stand for an entire country. Likewise, for things distinctly British, we have stinking weather, fish and chips, and Mary Poppins. (I must pause for a moment and ask everyone to watch "Snatch", for reasons that'll become clear once you watch it. I guarantee it will make you fall off your chair, laughing.)

Mary Poppins, apart from being the prim, proper and rather stuck-up pin-up girl (lady, I'm sorry) for all things British, is a fictional character and the protagonist of Pamela Travers' Mary Poppins books and all of its adaptations. She is a magical nanny of unknown origins who arrives at the Banks home in Cherry Tree Lane where she is given charge of the Banks children and teaches them valuable lessons with a magical touch. She is usually identifiable by her sensible hat and parrot umbrella which she brings with her wherever she goes on outings. She is loving and kind towards the children, but can be strict when needed.

Trivia: Uncle Sam was "created" by soldiers stationed in upstate New York, who would receive barrels of meat stamped with the initials U.S. The soldiers jokingly referred to it as the initials of the troops' meat supplier, "Uncle" Samuel Wilson of Troy, New York.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

8 comments:

Moi said...

another beautiful post....i loved Julie Andrews in the musical....well who didn't!!! and the songs ...:)
remember the word it popularized: "Supercali.....something something " :DDD
and Uncle Sam deserved another post!!! :)

yogsma said...

cool post.. you know recent bollywood release "Fool n' final" is a remake of "Snatch".

Radha said...

Great post, Abhishek, very interesting. I was curious abt the origin of 'Uncle Sam' as well! :)

suramya said...

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"- love that word, mary poppins used this word as an exclamation when a person doesn't know what to say. I loved that song, even chim chimney was great

Jas Bhambra said...

That movie is great, isn't it Abhishek. I inherited it from my former boss who moved back to England.

So true, how some terms distinctively relate to some countries/culture...

I am thinking of "desi" at the moment! :)

Jas Bhambra said...

The movie "Snatch"...

Moi said...

following it from jas' "desi" thought.......Italian "mafia"/"Mob"...or "Red" with Soviets ......

Abhishek Rudresh said...

@Yogsma: Nooo!
@Radha: Thanks!
@Suramya: yup, nice song(s).
@Jas: Lucky you! The only things I inherit from my boss are irredeemably screwed up projects :(
@Moi: I'd say if India needed a personification, it would just have to be Laxman's 'Common Man'.